10 Ways You Can Advocate for the Infertility Community

Yes, you can advocate for infertility! Sometimes, people think advocacy means using all your free time to be a voice for a cause, and perhaps requires wearing a cape, with a big A (for advocacy, of course).

This just isn’t true. Being an advocate doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Even advocating on a small scale can have huge rewards for you and others.

Advocacy can help you transform into a warrior. Helping others in the infertile community can also give your painful experiences a sense of meaning – you can help others better because you have been where they have been.

Here are 10 ways you can advocate for infertility, some big, some small. Do what fits best in your life, and know that it all makes a difference.


Be Vocal on Infertility Issues

Women standing by the watercooler
Don't be afraid to speak up at the water cooler if infertility myths and misconceptions come up in conversation. Frank and Helena / Getty Images

Standing at the office water cooler and hear people gossiping on the latest Octomom-like scandal? Speak up and set the record straight.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to “come out” as someone battling infertility if you don’t want to. You can simply offer a voice of reason.

Watercooler mean girls: “All those IVF moms have four, five, six babies at once. It’s totally crazy.”

Watercooler warrior (that’s you): “Actually, that’s not true. Most IVF pregnancies result in one baby or twins. Octomom is an extreme case, not the norm.”


Don't Be Afraid to Educate People and Refute Myths

Grandmother, mother, and daughter sitting at a table
Don't be afraid to (politely) educate others on infertility. If not from you, where else will they hear the facts?. Takahiro Igarashi / Getty Images

If you’re "out" about your infertility, you’re much more likely to be on the receiving end of myth-laden advice.

For example, you've likely heard statements like these...

“You should go on vacation. My cousin’s roommate’s sister went on vacation and got pregnant.”

“You can just do IVF, what are you worried about?”

Your first instinct may be to roll your eyes and let it go. There is a time a place for that. You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable schooling your boss or certain relatives. Plus, if you know the myth-spreader isn’t going to listen to you, or is going to argue, rolling your eyes after you walk away may be best.

However, sometimes, speaking the truth and refuting myths is the right thing to do. If you get up the courage to do so, you’ll not only possibly educate someone on the facts of infertility, you may also spare their next victim.

Another option: email the myth-spreaders a couple fact-correcting articles.


Come Out About Your Infertility

Couple shouting into a megaphone near the sea
Coming out about your fertility struggles can be empowering for you and also help others break their silence on infertility. Alan Graf / Getty Images

Talking about your struggle with infertility publicly isn’t for everyone. There are pros and cons to speaking out.

However, know that when you do tell people about your infertility—even if only your closest friends and relatives—you become a face of infertility. You make this issue more human. And that in turn makes you an advocate for the infertility community.

Think about it. Don’t you feel more moved by advocacy campaigns that address a medical or political issue that affects someone you love?

Most advocates for a cause fall into one of two groups: those directly affected by the issue, and those who love someone affected by the issue. When you come out about your infertility, you enable your circle of friends to become infertility advocates.

That’s very powerful.


Talk #Infertility on Social Media

Woman standing in front of a chalkboard with social media icons
Social media gives you the power to reach many more people than you could face-to-face. Justin Lewis / Getty Images

Social media is the easiest way to get involved in grassroots advocacy. On social media platforms like Twitter, you have the potential to reach the world with your tweets. How can you talk infertility on social media?

On Twitter, you can look up relevant hashtags—for example #infertility, #ivf, or #fertility—and retweet important issues or helpful information.

You can also search for other Twitter users who are facing infertility, and follow them. There’s an entire community of infertility survivors and advocates out there.

Same goes on Pintrest. There so many boards created just to support those facing infertility. Trying search hashtags like #infertility, #pcos, #ivf, and #endo.

Create your own infertility awareness boards, which will in turn support others in the community and possibly educate your more fertile followers.

On Facebook, it’s a little trickier if you’re not out about your fertility challenges. But don’t let that stop you from spreading relevant information. You can still share general links on fertility issues, especially content that may interest a wider audience.

Social media is also a place where you can be vocal about current legislative issues that affect those with infertility.

For example, personhood legislation has threatened to make IVF treatment illegal in some states. It has yet to pass, but that’s partially because of voices like you, who inform others who may not know the consequences of bills like these.

Don’t feel like you need to ONLY be about infertility to advocate on social media. Your voice is even more powerful when it reaches those not already part of the infertile community.

So tweet.. or pin... or post!


Advocate for Yourself

Couple talking to doctor about infertility
Whenever possible, try to meet with your doctor together with your partner or with a friend. You may feel less intimidated, which can make it easier to ask questions. Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

Advocating for the infertility community starts with advocating for yourself. When you insist on being heard, when you fight for your health and reproductive rights, it helps everyone.

What does it mean to advocate for yourself?

  • Ask questions of your doctors. Ask questions when you’re unsure if the path they are recommending is best for you. Ask about risks, options, and costs.
  • Seek out the best clinic for you.  The closest or cheapest fertility clinic may not be the best clinic. Be sure you are in the best hands for your particular situation.
  • Write your insurance company and applying for coverage. Yes, even if the policy officially doesn’t cover your fertility treatments, apply anyway. Send letters. Talk to your HR department about getting fertility treatment coverage.
  • Know what your options are. Self-education (from reliable sources) gives you the ability to ask smart questions and know when you may have additional paths that your doctor hasn't mentioned.

Your actions may pave an easier path for those behind you.


Support Others with Infertility

Support group meeting in a community center
When you join a support group, you not only help yourself -- you put yourself in a position to help others as well. Barry Rosenthal / Getty Images

There are so many ways you can support others with infertility.

You can:

  • Join a support group. Yes, even by being a member of an infertility support group, you support others in the group. It’s win-win.
  • Seek out online other IFers (or infertiles, shorthand term of endearment used in the infertility community online.) You may find them in forums, on Twitter, in the blogging community, or in Facebook groups. (Some Facebook groups are private or closed, so you may need to ask around to get in.)
  • Volunteer to lead a peer-led support group. Does your area not have a support group? If you’re in the emotional place to do so, maybe you can volunteer to start and lead such a group!

If you’re interested in joining or starting a peer-led support group, contact Resolve: The National Infertility Association.


Make Your Voice Heard on Capital Hill

Woman standing inside captiol building
Your voice does matter. Make sure you're heard. Patrick Lane / Getty Images

This is what is typically thought of as advocacy—making your voice heard to your local legislatures. It is a very powerful form of advocacy.

Legislation can have a direct affect in your access to fertility treatments, and sometimes on your ability to pay for treatments.

Some states require insurance coverage of fertility treatments, including IVF, but this didn’t happen magically. It’s only available due to members of the infertile community lobbying for these benefits.

Also, some states have threatened to take these financially supports away. Voices like yours can make a difference in whether legislation passes.

Don’t know how to make your voice heard? Don’t worry. When big issues come out, there are often form letters you can send out or scripts to follow if you’re making a phone call.

Stay informed by tuning into Twitter and through Resolve’s Center for Infertility Justice:

You may also want to consider coming to Washington, D.C. for Advocacy Day, an annual event organized by Resolve. At these events, you’ll meet face to face with your local representatives.

Remember reading above how knowing someone personally may affect someone’s feelings on a political issue? It really does make a difference when your legislatures meet those struggling with infertility in person.

Not sure what you’d say? Or do? Don’t worry, Resolve will give you the information you need to do this. They train you on what the issues are and how to present them to your congressional representative.


Participate in Infertility Awareness Events

teal ribbon, awareness color for PCOS
Wearing an awareness ribbon can be a form of advocacy. Someone may ask you what it's for, and then you can use that opportunity to raise awareness. mark wragg / Getty Images

Another way to advocate for infertility is to participate in awareness events. Awareness months and events you should know about are:


Donate to Organizations that Support the Infertility Community

Hands holding letters that spell donate
Your donation makes a difference -- no matter how much you're able to give. John Rensten / Getty Images

Yes, donating to advocacy organizations is advocacy. These organizations don’t receive nearly enough funds to do the work they need and want to do. They need financial support, and you can help.

Don’t feel like you’re donation doesn’t count if you can only give a small amount. Every amount counts. If every member of the infertile community gave the equivalent of two cups of fancy coffee, these organizations would be very well funded.

Another way to help is to encourage your friends and family to donate as well. By sharing your wish that your friends and family also consider donating to a cause that directly affects your life, you are both advocating for infertility and increasing the reach these advocacy organizations have.

Not sure how or when to ask? Spread the word on the National Day of Giving, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Resolve participates in #GivingTuesday, and it makes for a great excuse to share with your friends.


Don't Stop Advocating Just Because You've Moved On

Hikers at the top of a summit
Don't forget those who could use your help once you've moved on after infertility. Nick Daly / Getty Images

The good news is that most couples who go through infertility eventually find a way to move on, whether it’s because they eventually conceive and have a child, or decide to adopt, or decide to live a childfree life.

The not-so-good news is that many stop being active in the infertility community after.

There are many reasons for this. For some, they just want to leave that entire chapter of their life behind them. They’d rather not think about it. For others, they suffer from survivor’s guilt. They think the community no longer wants them in the group. They feel guilty for resolving when many of their friends are still struggling.

Listen to me: the community still needs and wants you to stay.

Your resolution story can provide hope to those still in the trenches. Your stories can also support those on the other side of infertility, which comes with challenges of its own.

Maybe you can’t come to Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. with a little baby in tow, but you can spread the word to others via social media. Maybe you can’t attend your support group once you’ve resolved, but you may be able to join or start a parenting after infertility group. (Yes, they exist, and are needed!)

Maybe blogging about infertility just doesn’t feel right anymore, but you can still comment on other IFers blogs. And you can always find a way to donate, even a small amount, to Resolve or another infertility advocacy organization.

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.